Archive for October, 2016


Wife’s cell phone snap of me with the Bessa T and Zeiss 35/2

The Voightländer Bessa 35mm cameras came out in the 1990s to give people a chance to shoot a classic rangefinder camera without having to either pay a king’s ransom for a Leica or use a funky old camera from the WWII era. I have a Bessa T with the venerable Leica M mount. This allows me to use all the great Leica glass from yesteryear right through the modern day. It also allows me to use old screw mount M39 lenses from my classic Canon rangefinders via a simple adapter. The T was made from around 2001 till about 2004.

This Bessa is one of two film cameras I still have and shoot. The other is a Canon EOS 1 35mm film body which of course uses all my Canon EOS glass shared with my EOS 5D Mk II. Bessa cameras also can use a variety of modern lenses in the Leica M or Leica 39mm Screw mount. Voightländer makes quite a few of these with varying levels of performance. Carl Zeiss has licensed Japanese lens makers to manufacture their designs for these and other cameras as well.

The Bessa is not as well made as a Leica, and should you be surprised? Seriously the M7 is more than$4000 so one cannot expect a $500 camera to be as well polished as the Leica. The Bessa is noiser than a Leica rangefinder but much more quiet than most if not all SLRs. The camera has some modern features, easy film loading and a built-in light meter. The camera is fully mechanical with the exception of the light meter. It will work fine with no battery installed. The viewfinder has a diopter control for eyesight correction. You really don’t want to try and focus this thing with eyeglasses on. Although it can be done, just take off the glasses and use the diopter control, trust me. It does not have a frame finder though, so users will need to use an auxillary viewfinder for which ever lens they are shooting. The rangefinder is pretty easy to focus. This is not nearly as good a rangefinder as a Leica, but remember, a new M7 is over $4000. I can live with a lesser rangefinder system. The current Bessa R4M has a nice viewfinder with parallax corrected projected frame lines for 21, 25, 28, 35 and 50mm focal lengths and that camera sells new for around $800.

I have shot my old Leica Summicron 35/2 and my new Zeiss Biogon 35/2 on this camera and it performs very well. I also shot a few of my old screw mount lenses on this Bessa T with good results. These cameras can be found on Ebay or better yet at camera show/swap meets like PhotoFair for around $200-$350

Below are a few shots I did recently with Tri-X film ISO 400 scanned with my old Minolta Dimage Scan Dual III.

Out the window picture, city scape

Taken out the window of my car while waiting for a light in Portland, OR Bessa T with Zeiss Biogon 35/2 M mount


My wife relaxing on the couch, Bessa T with old Canon 50/1.2 screw mount


Maggie with Bessa T and Zeiss Biogon 35/2 M mount

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